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"Martin Luther King has placed the Vietnam war precisely where it 
belongs — on the conscience of every American. His New York Speech 
of April 4, 1967 marks a national turning point in concern about the 
war, and expresses the moral outrage of increasing numbers of Amer- 
icans. No one must be allowed to escape its disturbing challenge." 

Robert McAfee Brown 



An Address Sponsored By 
The Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam 

Riverside Church 

New York City 

April 4, 1967 

I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight "because my conscience 
leaves me no other choice. I join you in this meeting "because I am in deepest 
agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has "brought us to- 
gether: Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam. The recent statement of 
your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart and I found my- 
self in full accord when I read its opening lines: "A time comes when silence 
is "betrayal." That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam. 

The truth of these words is "beyond doubt, but the mission to which they 
call us is a most difficult one. 'Even when pressed by the demands of inner 
truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, 
especially in time of war.# Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty 
against all the apathy of conformist thought within one's own bosom and in the 
surrounding world. Moreover when the issues at hand seem as perplexing as they 
often do in the case of this dreadful conflict we are always on the verge of 
being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on. 

Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night 
have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must 
speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited 
vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the 
first time in our nation's history that a significant number of its religious 
leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the 
high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the 
reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us 
trace its movements well and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its 

guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems 
so close around us. 

• Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my 
own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for 
radical departures from the destruction of Viet Nam, many persons have questioned 
mc about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has 
often loomed large and loud: Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King? Why 
are you joining the voices of dissent? Peace and civil rights don't mix, they 
say. Aren't you hurting the cause of your people, they ask? And when I hear 
them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless 
greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really 
known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that 
they do not know the world in which they live.# 

In the light of such tragic misunderstanding, I deem it of signal im- 
portance to try to state clearly, and I trust concisely, why I believe that the 
—path from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church -- the church in Montgomery, Alabama 
where I began my pastorate -- leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight. 

•I come to this platform tonight to make a passionate plea to my beloved 
nation. «This speech is not addressed to Hanoi or to the National Liberation Front. 
It is not addressed to China or to Russia. 

Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation 
and the need for a collective solution to the tragedy of Vietnam. Neither is it 
an attempt to make North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front paragons of 
virtue, nor to overlook the role they can play in a successful resolution of the 
problem. While they both may have justifiable reason to be suspicious of the 
good faith of the United States, life and history give eloquent testimony to the 
fact that conflicts are never resolved without trustful give and take on both 


•Tonight, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the NLF, but 
rather to my fellow Americans who, with me, bear the greatest responsibility 
in ending a conflict that has exacted a heavy price on both continents.. 

Since I am a preacher by trade, I suppose it is not surprising that 
•I have seven major reasons for bringing Viet Nam into the field of my moral vision.' 
There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the 
war in Viet Nam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America. 
A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there 
was a real promise of hope for the poor -- both black and white -- through the 
Poverty Program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. • Then came the 
build-up in Viet Nam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it 
were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew tha\^ 
America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of 
its poor so long as adventures like Viet Nam continued to draw men and skills and 
money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly com- 
pelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.* 

• Perhaps a more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became 
clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the 
poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to 
fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the 
population. <We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our 
society and sending them 8,000 miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast 
Asia which they had not found in Southwest Georgia and East Harlem.\tF~ 

i So we have 


been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys 
on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable 
to seat them together in the same schools. • So we watch them in brutal sol- 
idarity burning the huts of a poor village but we realize that they would 
never live on the same block in Detroit. I could not be silent in the face of 
such cruel manipulation of the poor. 

My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it 
grows out of my experience in the ghettos of the north over the last three 
years — especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the des- 
perate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails 
and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my 
deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes 
most meaningfully through non-violent action. But they asked -- and rightly 
so -- what about Viet Nam? • They asked if our own nation wasn't using massive 
doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. 
Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice 
against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken 
clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own 
government.* For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for 
the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot 
be silent. 

Fpr those who ask the question, "Aren't you a Civil Rights leader? 
and thereby mean to exclude me from the movement for peace, I have this further 
answer. In 1957 when a group of us formed*the Southern Christian Leadership 
Conference, we chose as our motto: "To save the soul of America." We were 
convinced that we could not limit our vision to certain rights for black 
people, but instead affirmed the conviction that America would never be free 
or saved from itself unless the descendants of its slaves were loosed completely 
from the shackles they still wear.* In a way we were agreeing with Langston 
Hughes, that black bard of Harlem, who had written earlier: 

0, yes, 

I say it plain, 

America never was America to me, 

And yet I swear this oath — 

America will be! 

Now, it should be incandescent ly clear that no one who has any concern 
for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If 
America's soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read Viet Nam. 
It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world 
over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that America will be are 
lead down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land. 

As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America 
were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1964; 
and I cannot forget thattthe Nobel Prize for Peace was also a commission — a 
commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for the "brotherhood 
of man."* This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances, but even 
if it were not present I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commit- 
ment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me the relationship of this ministry 


to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask 
me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that 
the good news was meant for all men -- for communist and capitalist, for their 
children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? 
Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his 
enemies so fully that he died for them? What then can I say to the Viet Cong 
or to Castro or to Mao as a faithful minister of this one? Can I threaten them 
with death or must I not share with them my life? 

Finally, as I try to dilineate for you and for myself the road that 
leads from Montgomery to this place I would have offered all that was most 
valid if I simply said that«I must be true to my conviction that I share with 
all men the calling to be a son of the Living God. Beyond the calling of race 
or nation or creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood, and because 
I believe that the Father is deeply concerned especially for his suffering and 
helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them. * 

This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who 
deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper 
than nationalism and which go beyond our nation's self-defined goals and posi- 
tions. %We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of 
our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can 
make these humans any less our brothers. » 

And as I ponder the madness of Viet Nam and search within myself for 
ways to understand and respond in compassion my mind goes constantly to the 
people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not 
of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the 
curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them too 
because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there 
until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries. 

§ They must see Americans as strange liberators. The Vietnamese people 
proclaimed their own independence in 1945 after a combined French and Japanese 
occupation, and before the communist revolution in China. They were led by 
Ho Chi Minh. Even though they quoted the American Declaration of Independence 
in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize them. Instead, we 
decided to support France in its re-conquest of her former colony. f 

Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not "ready" 
for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly western arrogance that 
has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long. With that tragic de- 
cision we rejected a revolutionary government seeking self-determination, and a 
government that had been established not by China (for whom the Vietnamese have 
no great love) but by clearly indigenous forces that included some communists. 
For the peasants this new government meant real land reform, one of the most 
important needs in their lives. 

•For nine years following 1945 we denied the people of Viet Nam the right 
of independence. For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their 
abortive effort to re-colonize Viet Nam.# 

^•Before the end of the war we were meeting 80% of the French war costs. 
Even before the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, they began to despair 
of the reckless action, but we did not. We encouraged them with our huge fin- 
ancial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had lost 
the will. Soon we would be paying almost the full costs of this tragic attempt 
at re-colonization. 


•After the French were defeated it looked as if independence and land re- 
form would ccme again through the Geneva agreements. But instead there came 
the United States, determined that Ho should not unify the temporarily divided 
nation, and the peasants watched again as we supported one of the most vicious 
modern dictators — our chosen man, Premier Diem. %The peasants watched and 
cringed as Diem ruthlessly routed out all opposition, supported their extor- 
tionist landlords and refused even to discuss re-unification with the North. 
The peasants watched as all this was presided over by U.S. influence and then 
by increasing numbers of U.S. troops x^ho came to help quell the insurgency 
that Diem's methods had aroused. When Diem was overthrown they may have been 
happy, but the long line of military dictatorships seemed to offer no real 
change — especially in terms of their need for land and peace. 
Z 7 The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments 
in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept and without pop- 
ular support. All the while the people read our leaflets and received regular 
promises of peace and democracy -- and land reform. Now they languish under our 
bombs and consider us -- not their fellow Vietnamese -- the real enemy. They 
move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into 
concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they 
must move or be destroyed by our bombs. So they go — primarily women and 
children and the aged. 

They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of 
their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas pre- 
paring to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals, with at 
least 20 casualties from American firepower for one Vietcong-inf licted injury. 
So far xie may have killed a million of them — mostly children. They wander 
into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, run- 
ning in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children degraded by 
our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters 
to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers. 

What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords 
and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? 
What do they think as we test out our latest x^eapons on them, just as the 
Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of 
Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Viet Nam we claim to be building? 
Is it among these voiceless ones? 

• We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and 
the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated 
in the crushing of the nation's only non-communist revolutionary political 
force — the unified Buddist Church. We have supported the enemies of the pea- 
sants of Saigon. We have corrupted their women and children and killed their 
men. What liberators! • 

Now there is little left to build on -- save bitterness. Soon the only V 
solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and 
in the concrete of the c^nceatx at - i - on camp -s we call fortified hamle± s. The pea- 
sants may well wonder if we plan to build our new Viet Nam on such grounds as 
these? Could we blame them for such thoughts? We must speak for them and raise 
the questions they cannot raise. These too are our brothers. 


Perhaps the more difficult but no less necessary task is to speak for 
those who have been designated as our enemies. •What of the National Liber- 
ation Front -- that strangely anonymous group we call VC or Communists? What 
must they think of us in America when they realize that we permitted the re- 
pression and cruelty of Diem which helped to bring them into being as a resis- 
tance -roup in the south? What do they think of our condoning the violence _ 
which led to their own taking up of arms? How can they believe in our mtegriLy 
when now we speak of "aggression from the North" as if there were nothing more 
essential to the war? How can they trust us when now we charge them with 
violence after the murderous reign of Diem, and charge them with the violence 
while we pour every new weapon of death into their land? Surely we must under- 
stand their feelings even if we do not condone their actions. Surely we must 
see that the men we supported pressed them to their violence. Surely we must 
see that our own computerized plans of destruction simply dwarf their greatest 

S ' % How do they judge us when our officials know that their membership is ? 
■less than 25 per cent communist and yet insist on giving them the blanket name. 
What must they be thinking when they know that we are aware of their control ot 
major sections of Viet Nam and yet we appear ready to allow national elections 
in which this highly organized political parallel government will have no part. 
They ask how we can speak of free elections when the Saigon press is censored 
and controlled by the military junta. And they are surely right to wonder what 
kind of new government we plan to help form without them - the only party in 
real touch with the peasants. They question our political goals and they deny 
the reality of a peace settlement from which they will be excluded. Their 
questions are frightening ly relevant. Is our nation planning to build on po- 
litical myth again and then shore it up with the power of new violence. 

% Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and non-violence when 
it helps us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear his questions to know 
his assessment of ourselves.. For from his view we may indeed see the basic 
weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature,' we may learn and grow and 
profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.' 

So too, with Hanoi. In the North, where our bombs now pummel the land, 
and our mines endanger the waterways, we are met by a deep but understandable 
mistrust. To speak for them is to explain this lack of confidence in western 
words, and especially their distrust of American intentions now. In Hanoi are 
the men who led the nation to independence against the Japanese and the French, 
the men who sought membership in the French commonwealth and were betrayed by 
the weakness of Paris and the wilfulness of the colonial armies. It was they 
who led a second struggle against French domination at tremendous costs, and 
then were persuaded to give up the land the controlled between the ljth and 
17th parallel as a temporary measure at Geneva. After 1954 they watched us 
consoire with Diem to prevent elections which would have surely brought Ho 
Chi Minh to power over a united Viet Nam, and they realized they had been 

betrayed again. , 

#When we ask why they do not leap to negotiate these things must be re- 
membered. Also it must be clear that the leaders of Hanoi considered the pre- 
sence of American troops in support of the Diem regime to have been the initial 
military breech of the Geneva Agreements concerning foreign troops, and they 
remind us that they did not begin to send in any large number of supples or 
men until American forces had moved into the tens of thousands. 

P. 7 

Hanoi remembers how our leaders refused to tell us the truth about the 
earlier north Vietnamese overtures for peace, how the President claimed that none 
existed when they had clearly befen made. Ho Chi Minh has watched as America has 
spoken of peace and built up its forces, and now he has surely heard the increasing 
international rumors of American plans for an invasion of the North. He knows the 
bombing and shelling and mining we are doing are part of traditional pre-invasion 
strategy. Perhaps only his sense of humor and of irony can save him when he hears 
the most powerful nation of the world speaking of aggression as it drops thous- 
ands of bombs on a poor weak nation more than 8,000 miles away from its shores. 

# At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last 
few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless on Vietnam and to understand the 
arguments of those who are called enemy, I am as deeply concerned about our own 
troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we^re^ubmitting 
them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war 
where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are addi^gcynici^to the\, 
process of death, for they must know after a short period there^ttistrnorie of the 
things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know 
that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more 
sophisticated surely realize that we are «n the side of the wealthy and the secure 
while we create a hell for the poor.* _ ^ 

# Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child 
of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose 
land is being laid waste, whole homes are being destroyed, whose culture is 
being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double 
price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as 

a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. 
I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in 
this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.f 

This is the message of the great»Bhuddist leaders of Vietnam.* Recently 
one of them wrote these words: "Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in 
the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. 
The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is^ 
curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of mil- 
itary victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psy- \ 
chological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image\ 
of revolution, freedom and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism." 

If we continue there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world 
that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. It will become clear that our 
minimal expectation is to occupy it as an American colony and men will not refrain 
from thinking that our maximum hope is to goad China v into a war so that we may 
bomb her nuclear installations. If we do not stop our war against the people of 
Vietnam immediately the world will be left with no other alternative than to see 
this as some horribly clumsy and deadly game we have decided to play. 

•The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to 
achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of 
our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the 
Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn 
sharply from our present ways. 


In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take 
the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war.«I would like to suggest 
five concrete things that our government should do immediately to begin the 
long and difficult process of extricating ourselves from this nightmarish 
conflict •% 

1. End all bombing in North and South Vietnam. 

2. Declare a unilateral cease-fire in the hope that such action 
will create the atmosphere for negotiation. 

3. Take immediate steps to prevent other battlegrounds in Southeast 
Asia by curtailing our military build-up in Thailand and our 
interference in Laos. 

4. Realistically accept the fact that the National Liberation Front 
has substantial support in South Vietnam and must thereby play 

a role in any meaningful negotiations and in any future Vietnam 

5. Set a date that we will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam 
in accordance with the 1954 Geneva Agreement. 

•Part of our ongoing commitment might well express itself in an 
offer to grant asylum to any Vietnamese who fears for his life under a new 
regime which included the Liberation Front. Then we must make what repa- 
rations we can for the damage we have done. We must provide the medical aid 
that is badly needed, making it available in this country if necessary.* 

Meanwhile we in the churches and synagogues have a continuing task 
while we urge our government to disengage itself from a disgraceful commit- 
ment. We must continue to raise our voices and our lives if our nation 
persists in its perverse ways in Vietnam. »We must be prepared to match 
actions with words by seeking out every creative means of protest possible.* 

% As we counsel young men concerning military service we must clarify 
for them our nation's role in Vietnam and challenge them with the alternative 
of conscientious objection. I am pleased to say that this is the path now 
being chosen by more than seventy students at my own Alma Mater, Morehouse 
College, and I recommend it to all who find the American course in Vietnam 
a dishonourable and unjust one. Moreover I would encourage all ministers of 
draft age to give up their ministerial exemptions and seek status as con- 
scientious objectors. These are the times for real choices and not false 
ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our 
nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must 
decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest. 

There is something seductively tempting about stopping there and 
sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade 
against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter that struggle, but I wish 
to go on now to say something even more disturbing. # The war in Vietnam is 

P. 9 

but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we 
ignore this sobering reality we will find ourselves organizing clergy and 
laymen- concerned committees for the next generation. t They will be concerned 
about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. 
They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching 
for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless 
there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. Such 
thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the 
living God. 

In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed 
to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During 
the past 10 years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which now has 
justified the presence of U.S. military "advisors" in Venezuela. This need 
to ma intain social stability for our investments ac counts for the counter- 
revolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American 
helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Colombia and why American 
napalm and green beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru. 
It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late*John F. Kennedy 
come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, "Those who make peaceful 
revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."* 

vT ' •Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation 
has taken — the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by 
refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the 
immense profits of overseas investment. • 

* I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world 
revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We 
must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person- 
oriented" society.* When machines and computers, profit motives and property 
rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of 
racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered. 

A true revolution of value will soon cause us to question the fair- 
ness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand 
we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life's roadside- but that will 
be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jerico 
Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten 
and robbed as they make their journey on Life's highway. True compassion is 
more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. 
It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs re-structuring. 
& true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast 
of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the 
seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money 
in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern 
for the social betterment of the countries, and say: "This is not just." It 
will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: 
"This is not just." The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything 
to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution 

p. 10 

of values will lay Hands on the world order and say of war: "This way of 
settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings 
with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of 
injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, 
of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped 
and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and 
love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on mili- 
tary defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. 

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can 
well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a 
tragic death wish, to prevent us from re-ordering our priorities, so that the 
pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is 
nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status-quo with bruised hands 
until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood. 

» This kind of positive revolution of values is our best defens e 
against Communism. W ar is not the answer . Communism will never be defeated 
by the use ot atomicTombs or nuclear weapons . \ Let us not join those who 
shout war and through their misguided passions urge the United States to re- 
linquish its participation in the United Nations. These are days which demand 
wise restraint and calm reasonableness. We must not call everyone a Communist 
or an appeaser who advocates the seating of Red China in the United Nations 
and who recognizes that hate and hysteria are not the final answers to the 
problem of those turbulent days. We must not engage in a negative anti- 
Communism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy, realizing that our 
greatest defense against Communism is to take offensive action in behalf of 
justice. %We must with positive action seek to remove those conditions of 
poverty, insecurity and injustice which are the fertile soil in which the seed 
of Communism grows and develops. % 

•These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting 
against old systems of exploitation and oppression and out of the wombs of 
a frail world new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirt- 
less and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. "The people 
who sat in darkness have seen a great light." We in the West must supp ort 
these rev olutions. It is a sad fact that, ber mino of comfort, complace ncy, 
a wvrh-iH fpar nf HnTnTMirH sin, and our pro neness to adjust to injustice , the 
Western nat ions that in i tia£ed"so tiHicTToT the revolutionary spirit"5T the 
moaern -wbrld have now become" the arch anti-revolutionaries . • This has driven 
many to feel that only Marxism "has the revolutionary spirit . Therefore , 
C ommunism is a judgment against our failure to make democracy real and fol low 
through on t he revolutions that we initiated. » 0ur only hope today lies in 
our^ ablllI3 pto recapture the revolutionary spirit and go put into a sometimes 
hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. 
With this powerful commitment we shall boldly ch alleng e the status-quo and 
unjust m ores and~ thereby speed the day when "every~valley shall be exalted, 
and every mountain and hill shall be made low s and the crooked shall be made 
straight and the rough places plain." • 



A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our 
loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must 
now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve 
the best in their individual societies. 

This call for a world-wide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern 
beyond one's tribe, race, class and nation is in reality a call for an all- 
embracing and unconditional love for all men. This oft misunderstood and mis- 
interpreted concept so readily dismissed by the Nietzches of the world as a 
weak and cowardly force — has now become an absolute necessity for the sur- 
vival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and 
weak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions 
have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the 
key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Moslem- 
Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed 
up in the first epistle of Saint John : 

Let us love one another; for love is God and everyone that 
loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not 
knoweth not God; for God is love. If we love one another, 
God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. 

•Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day. We 
can no longer afford to worship the God of Hate or bow before the altar of 
retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising 
tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and indi- 
viduals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee 
says: "Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life 
and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first 
hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last 

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are 
confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of 
life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination 
is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and 
dejected with a lost opportunity. The "tide in the affairs of men" does not 
remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause 
in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the 
bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the 
pathetic words: Too late. "•There is an invisible book of life that faith- 
fully records our vigilance or our neglect. "The moving finger writes, and 

having written moves on " We still have a choice today: non-violent 

co-existence or violent co-annihilation. • 

We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to 
speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world — a 
world that borders on our doors. #If we do not act we shall surely be dragged 
down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who 
possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without 
sight, m 


p. 12 

Now let us begin. Now let us re-dedicate ourselves to the long and 
bitter — but beautiful — struggle for a new world. This is the calling of 
the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we 
say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? 
Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their 
arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be 
another message, of longing of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of 
commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though 
we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human ■ 


As that noble bard of yesterday, James Russell Lowell eloquently 


Once to every man and nation, 

Comes the moment to decide 

In the strife of truth and falsehood 

For the good or evil side; 

Some great cause God's new Messiah 

Offering each the gloom or blight 

And the choice goes by forever 

Twixt that darkness and that light. 

Though the cause of evil prosper 
Yet 'tis truth alone is strong 
Though her portion be the scaffold 
And upon the throne be wrong 
Yet that scaffold sways the future 
And behind the dim unknown 
Standeth God within the shadow 
Keeping watch above his own. 

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